Showing posts with label Flavia Pennetta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Flavia Pennetta. Show all posts

18 February 2019

Roberta Vinci - tennis champion

Won five Grand Slam doubles titles with partner Sara Errani


Roberta Vinci won 10 singles and 25 doubles titles in her career, reaching a Grand Slam singles final at the age of 32
Roberta Vinci won 10 singles and 25 doubles titles in her
career, reaching a Grand Slam singles final at the age of 32
The tennis player Roberta Vinci, one half of the most successful Italian women’s doubles partnerships of all time and one of only four Italian women to rank in the world’s top 10 at singles, was born on this day in 1983 in the major port city of Taranto in Puglia.

Vinci and partner Sara Errani reached the women’s doubles final at eight Grand Slam tournaments between 2012 and 2014, winning five of them.

They were the champions at the French Open and United States Open in 2012 and the Australian Open in 2013 and again in 2014. When they won the Wimbledon title in 2014 they became one of only five women’s doubles partnerships to complete a career Grand Slam of all the four majors.

The pair, who reached No 1 in the world rankings in 2012, unexpectedly ended their five-year partnership in 2015, after which Vinci focussed on singles.

Vinci and her doubles partner Sara Errani, with whom she won five Grand Slams
Vinci and her doubles partner Sara Errani,
with whom she won five Grand Slams
Vinci’s finest achievement in singles came at the US Open in 2015, when she defeated world No 1 Serena Williams in the semi-finals before facing her compatriot and childhood friend Flavia Pennetta in the final, the first in a Grand Slam in the open era to pit one Italian against another.

Pennetta won 7-6, 6-2 but Vinci was spurred on by her achievement in reaching a Grand Slam final for the first time at 32 years old and in 2016 broke into the world’s top 10 for the first time in her career at 33 years and four days. It is the oldest at which any player has attained a top-10 ranking for the first time.

She did so on the back of winning a WTA tournament in St Petersburg, Russia, her first for three years. Errani, Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone are the other Italian women who have achieved a ranking in the top 10.

The daughter of an accountant, Vinci took up tennis at the age of just six and represented Taranto Tennis Club in numerous junior events. She and Pennetta, from Brindisi, won the women’s doubles at the Avvenire Trophy at just 14 years old.

They won the girls’ doubles at the French Open in 1999, the same year that Vinci made her professional debut.

Vinci and Flavia Pennetta show off their trophies after the US Open women's final of 2015 in New York
Vinci and Flavia Pennetta show off their trophies after the
US Open women's final of 2015 in New York
The first of her 35 titles came in 2001 at the Qatar Open, when she and the French player Sandrine Testud won the women’s doubles. In all she went on to win 25 doubles titles, all but three in partnership with Errani.

Vinci won the first of her 10 singles titles at the Copa Colsanitas in Bogota, Colombia, in 2007. She was also a member of the Italian team that won the Fed Cup women’s team event on four occasions.

Unusually for a modern player, Vinci used a one-handed backhand grip and the backhand slice was one of her favourite shots. Combined with a powerful forehand and excellent court coverage, her game was often likened to that of the great German champion Steffi Graf.

After a 21-year career, Vinci retired from professional tennis at the Italian Open in 2018, bowing out before an appreciative home crowd at the Foro Italico in Rome, signing off a tearful farewell speech with the words: “From tomorrow, I am on holiday!”

Taranto's Castello Aragonese, which stands guard over the canal linking the Mar Grande with the Mar Piccolo
Taranto's Castello Aragonese, which stands guard over
the canal linking the Mar Grande with the Mar Piccolo
Travel tip:

Taranto, a port city on the Ionian Sea which is home to Italy’s largest naval base, was once one of the largest cities in the world, founded by the Greeks in 706BC and growing so prosperous that it once had a population in excess of 300,000. It retained its status under the Roman Republic but declined under the Roman Empire after the Emperor Trajan redirected the Via Appia, which used to connect it with Rome, to Bari. Nowadays, it is still a substantial city, home to almost 200,000 people. It is built around two large bays - the Mar Grande, where the commercial port is located, and the Mar Piccolo, flanked by the historic town centre and also home to the city’s fishing fleets.  The city is notable for multiple architectural styles, including Byzantine, Saracen and Norman. The Cattedrale di San Cataldo, right in the heart of old Taranto, dates back to the 11th century and houses the relics of the city’s patron saint, Cataldo. Taranto’s other must-see monument is the Castello Aragonese, built by King Ferdinand of Aragon in the 15th century.


The uniquely ornate setting of Italy's national tennis centre at the Foro Italico, home of the Italian Open
The uniquely ornate setting of Italy's national tennis centre
at the Foro Italico, home of the Italian Open
Travel tip:

Foro Italico, the sports complex in Rome that is the home of the Italian Open tennis championships, was built between 1928 and 1938 as the Foro Mussolini. Inspired by the Roman forums of the imperial age, its original purpose was to host the Olympic Games of 1940 as a showcase for Fascist values. In the event, the Second World War meant the 1940 Games were cancelled, although it was the main host venue for the Rome Olympics of 1960. The complex of today includes the Stadio Olimpico, home of Rome’s two major football clubs - Roma and Lazio - and the largest sports stadium in Italy, the ornate Stadio dei Marmi athletics stadium - headquarters of the Italian National Olympic Committee - and the national tennis centre, which - like the Stadio dei Marmi is surrounded by classical statues of athletes.


More reading:

Why Sara Errani can be called Italy's most successful tennis player of all time

Francesca Schiavone - the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam

How Camila Giorgi became Italy's No 1

Also on this day:

1455: The death of Renaissance painter Fra Angelico

1564: The death of Michelangelo

1967: The birth of soccer star Roberto Baggio

(Picture credits: Main picture of Roberta Vinci by Regasterios; Vinci and Errani by Marianne Bevis; Castello Aragonese by Livioandronico2013; all via Wikimedia Commons)


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30 December 2018

Camila Giorgi - tennis player

Italian No 1 who specialises in beating big names


Camila Giorgi has risen to No 26 in the world following a successful 2018 season
Camila Giorgi has risen to No 26 in the world
following a successful 2018 season
The tennis player Camila Giorgi, currently the highest-ranked Italian in the female world rankings, was born on this day in 1991 in Macerata, a city in the Marche region.

Giorgi, the Italian No 1, rose to 26 in the latest Women’s Tennis Association world rankings, her highest position to date. There is no other Italian woman in the top 100.

This has been a breakthrough year for Giorgi in that she reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam event for the first time, at the Wimbledon Championships in London in June.

Giorgi was not seeded but after defeating 21st seed Anastasija Sevastova in the first round, she advanced through her section of the draw with three more victories, culminating in a straight-sets win over former world No 8 Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round.

That earned Giorgi a last-eight meeting with seven-times Wimbledon champion and world record grand slam winner Serena Williams.  Giorgi won the first set but Williams fought back to win the match.

Earlier in the 2018 summer, Giorgi had delivered her best performance at the French Open by reaching the third round. Later in the year, she won her second career WTA tournament, the Linz Open in Austria.

Giorgi has an excellent record in matches against top players and commentators believe her best years are still to come
Giorgi has an excellent record in matches against top players
and commentators believe her best years are still to come
Although Giorgi has never beaten Serena Williams in four encounters, she has an unusually good record against top players.

In the course of her career, Giorgi has beaten former World No 1 players Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, GarbiƱe Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova, double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, two French Open champions in her fellow Italian Francesca Schiavone and Jelena Ostapenko, another Wimbledon winner in Marion Bartoli and three US Open champions in Samantha Stosur, Italy’s Flavia Pennetta and Sloane Stephens.

Giorgi was born to Argentinian parents of Italian descent. Her parents are Claudia Gabriella Fullone, a fashion designer who designs her daughter’s tennis clothes, and Sergio Giorgi, who is her full-time coach. In 1982, Sergio was drafted into the army of Argentina and fought against the British in the Falklands War.

She is one of four children. Her older brother Leandro is studying to be an actor, and younger brother Amadeus is a promising footballer. Sadly, their older sister, Antonela, was killed in a road accident while the family were living in Paris in 2011. They now live at Tirrenia, a resort near Pisa.

Giorgi reached the quarter-finals at the  Wimbledon Championships in 2018
Giorgi reached the quarter-finals at the
Wimbledon Championships in 2018
Giorgi, who was given a placement at Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy in Florida when she was eight, made her professional debut at the age of 15. She won the first of her five International Tennis Federation tournaments in August 2008.

Her first appearance at a Grand Slam tournament came in 2011, when she won through qualifying to make the draw at Wimbledon. She lost her first-round match, but reached the fourth round at Wimbledon the following year, advancing to the same stage at the US Open in 2013, defeating former world No 1 Wozniacki along the way.  She made the third round at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2015, during which she scored her first WTA title in Rosmalen, in the Netherlands.

At the age of 27, Giorgi has been regularly praised for the power of her hitting and the quality of her ground strokes, but has also attracted comment, not always favourable, for posting glamorous images of herself on her social media accounts and for not yet fulfilling her potential on the court.

However, her progress has not been helped by problems with a shoulder injury.

Moreover, the age at which tennis players achieve success has changed. Teenage prodigies are no longer common. Giorgi’s age is now the average for female players in the top 50.

Also, Italian players are typically late developers. Her fellow Italians Schiavone and Pennetta won Grand Slam titles in their late twenties or early thirties.  When Pennetta won the US Open in 2015 she was 33, defeating 32-year-old compatriot Roberta Vinci in the final.


Queues at the entrance to the Arena Sferisterio, which hosts a month-long summer opera festival in Macerata
Queues at the entrance to the Arena Sferisterio, which
hosts a month-long summer opera festival in Macerata
Travel tip:

Camila Giorgi’s home city of Macerata is in an inland area of Marche, about 48km (30 miles) south of Ancona and 30km (19 miles) from the coastal town of Civitanova Marche. Not a well-known tourist destination, it nonetheless has a charming hilltown feel, with a maze of narrow cobblestone streets and one of Italy’s oldest universities, dating back to 1290. It is the setting each summer for a month-long opera festival at the atmospheric Arena Sferisterio, which has attracted some of the world’s biggest stars.


The Tuscan seaside resort of Tirrenia, where Camila Giorgi now lives, is surrounded by pine forests
The Tuscan seaside resort of Tirrenia, where Camila Giorgi
now lives, is surrounded by pine forests 
Travel tip:

Tirrenia, situated about 20km (12 miles) from the city of Pisa, is an elegant resort surrounded by pine forests. Known for its wide, sandy beaches and clear water, it is well equipped with sports facilities and is a centre for leisure sailing and spearfishing. The forest areas offer walks and cycle paths and has a protected area, the Tirrenia Dune Oasis, which is managed by the Worldwide Fund for Nature as home to a many varieties of flora and fauna and one of the last dune environments in Italy.

Find a hotel in Tirrenia with TripAdvisor

More reading:

How Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam

The talent that helped doubles star Sara Errani hit No 5 in singles rankings

The unique achievement of Adriano Panatta 

Also on this day:

39AD: The birth of Roman emperor Titus

1572: The death of architect Galeazzo Alessi

1962: The birth of politician Alessandra Mussolini


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9 July 2017

Adriano Panatta – tennis player

French Open champion was most at home on the clay


Adriano Panata was at the peak of his career in 1976
Adriano Panata was at the peak of his career in 1976
The only tennis player ever to defeat Bjorn Borg at Roland Garros in Paris, Adriano Panatta was born on this day in 1950 in Rome.

A successful singles player, Panatta reached the peak of his career in 1976 when he won the French Open, gaining his only Grand Slam title, defeating the American player, Harold Solomon, in the final 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.

Panatta learnt to play tennis as a youngster on the clay courts of the Tennis Club Parioli in Rome, where his father was the caretaker.

He won top-level titles at Bournemouth in 1973, Florence in 1974 and at Kitzbuhel in Austria and Stockholm in 1975.

In the same year that he won the French Open, Panatta won the Italian Open in Rome, beating Guillermo Vilas in the final 2-6, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6. In the first round of the competition he had saved 11 match points in his match against the Australian Kim Warwick.

Panatta ended 1976 by helping Italy capture its only Davis Cup title, winning two singles and a doubles rubber in the final against Chile. He also reached his career-high singles ranking of World number four that year.

Adriano Panatta aged 20 in 1970 - the  year he beat Nicola Pietrangeli
Adriano Panatta aged 20 in 1970 - the
 year he beat Nicola Pietrangeli

The only player to have defeated Bjorn Borg in the French Open, Panatta had the distinction of achieving this feat twice, in the fourth round in 1973 and in the quarter finals in 1976.  

Panatta’s most notable performance at Wimbledon was in 1979 when he reached the quarter finals. 

In all, he won 10 tournaments in singles and 17 in doubles. He is one of only four Italian players to have won a Grand Slam tournament, the others being Nicola Pietrangeli, who won the French open in 1959 and successfully defended his title in 1960, Francesca Schiavone, who won the French in 2010, and Flavia Pennetta, who was US Open champion in 2015.

It was by defeating Pietrangeli in five sets at the Italian International championships in Bologna in 1970 that Panatta first gave notice of his potential to reach the top.

As wells as helping Italy win the Davis Cup in 1976, Panatta assisted his country to reach the final in 1977, 1979 and 1980.

Since retiring as a player in 1983, Panatta has served as captain of Italy’s Davis Cup team and as Tournament Director of the Rome Masters.  For a while, he pursued an interest in speedboat racing and also served on Rome City Council as councillor in charge of sports and major events. For a number of years he worked as a television commentator.

The Parioli district is a pleasant Rome suburb with bars and pavement cafes
The Parioli district is a pleasant Rome suburb with
bars and pavement cafes
Travel tip:

The Tennis Club Parioli, where Panatta learnt to play, is in Largo Uberto De Morpergo in the Parioli district, a northern suburb of Rome. The name comes from Monti Parioli, which are a series of hills. During the Fascist regime, many high-ranking party officials had residences in the Parioli district. Nowadays it is one of Rome’s most elegant residential areas and a number of foreign embassies are located there.

The Italian Open attracts large crowds to the Foro Italico
The Italian Open attracts large crowds to the Foro Italico
Travel tip:

The Italian Open, which Panatta won in 1976, is one of the most prestigious clay court tournaments in the world. It takes place each year at the Foro Italico, formerly known as Foro Mussolini, which was built between 1928 and 1938. Foro Italico is considered a prime example of Italian Fascist architecture, which was encouraged by Mussolini. The purpose was to bring the Olympic Games to Rome in 1944, however London won the bid. In the event, the 1944 Olympic Games had to be cancelled because of the Second World War.